Did shell shock make us serious about mental health?

November 4, 2014 by richard

Veterans gardening in 1917 and today to help overcome battle trauma. Images courtesy of Getty and gardeningleave.org

A web piece by BBC looking into how attitudes to veteran’s mental health has changed since 1917.

See it here.

The untold stories of deaf people in WWI

by richard


An entry on the BBC Ouch blog on the fates of deaf ex-soldiers.

When the war broke out, sentries were deployed across the country and security was tightened. But many deaf people were unaware of the new rules … and paid for it with their lives.

“Deaf people walking along the road were told to stop by sentries. But when they continued to walk, they were shot,” says historian Norma McGilp, who is herself deaf and has been researching a book about the experiences of deaf people in World War One.

“There are a number of stories about deaf people being randomly shot while walking home from work, cycling or generally getting on with life,” McGilp tells See Hear.

Reports like these peppered the pages of local and national newspapers at the start of the war but by September 1914, the British Deaf Times had published a set of guidelines warning its readers not to go out walking alone or near railway lines, stations and public buildings, and advised they be accompanied by a hearing person where possible.

Though some deaf people became unforeseen casualties of home front security, evidence has also emerged about how many were involved in the country’s war effort.

In London, a deaf volunteer battalion was reported to have been trained in drill and tunnel digging and a number of deaf people were employed in factories as munitions workers – making and testing shells, fuses, and manufacturing everything from tools through to wheels.

Wilfred Owen poem Analyses

October 26, 2014 by richard

Wilfred Owen

Dulce et Decorum est Poem with Analysis

Disabled Poem

Disabled Analysis by Emmeline Burdett



‘Does It Matter’ 5 films by disabled artists on WWI

September 27, 2014 by richard

In this series of short films, five contemporary disabled artists (Katherine AranielloJez Colborne in collaboration with Mind the Gap, Claire CunninghamTony Heaton and Simon Mckeown) present warm, witty and poignant perspectives on war and disability.

From a cast of animated disabled soldiers to a chaotic WW1 hospital and the heroic figures depicted on war memorials, these films offer unorthodox, irreverent and unexpected takes on the legacies of war and disability in Britain today, taking inspiration from Siegfried Sassoon’s 1917 poem Does It Matter?


Does It Matter? World War 1

With two million British servicemen disabled by World War One, society’s attitude to disability had to change. Disabled artists present unorthodox takes on the legacies of war and disability

Series 1 Episode 5: Soldiering On

Jez Colborne’s song explores his fascination with the pomp and ceremony of war, an experience he’s locked out of because ‘learning-disabled people don’t go to war’. A collaboration with Mind The Gap.

Watch it here

Series 1 Episode 4: Breathe Nothing of Slaughter

Tony Heaton examines the potent symbol of the war memorial and the reality of war. Heroic, Adonis-like bodies are set in stark contrast to images of blackened faces and malnourished and broken bodies.

Watch it here

Series 1 Episode 3: Lovely Ward

Katherine Araniello turns sentimentality on its head in a playful and absurd re-imagining of a wartime hospital where the wounded and war-damaged wait to have their morale lifted by Matron.

Watch it here

Series 1 Episode 2: Ghosts

Simon Mckeown’s motion capture animation follows a multinational cast of disabled veterans as they prepare for the day in a landscape filled with the artefacts and objects of World War One

Watch it here

Series 1 Episode 1: Resemblance

Assembling a crutch as a soldier assembles a gun, Claire Cunningham enacts a ritual that mirrors the act of creating a weapon of destruction, while actually creating an object of support

Watch it here

Online Exhibition: WWI Indian Wounded in Brighton Pavilion

by richard

During World War I a former Royal Palace in England was converted into a hospital for soldiers of the British Indian Army.

This is the story of wounded turbaned warriors from the battlefields of France sent to the hospitals of Brighton.

Click to see the exhibition at the Sikh Museum

four-worst-cases-brighton-hospital the-dome-hospital